What they said: Ryan Day says the Michigan defense is more NFL oriented

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After a one-year hiatus due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Michigan program last year, The Game is back and everything is on the line. The winner will go to the Big Ten championship game, and the winner will also have a great shot at making the College Football Playoff. The loser of the ball game will have two losses, and a chance at the playoffs will be all but over.

The stakes couldn’t be any higher between Michigan and Ohio State. ESPN ‘College GameDay’ and Fox ‘Big Noon Kickoff’ will both be in Ann Arbor for the big showdown between the Buckeyes and Wolverines, while millions of eyes will be glued on their televisions to watch the annual showdown between two bitter rivals — how could it get better than this?

The Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day met with media on Tuesday to share his thoughts on the classic battle.

Coach Day immediately talked about how beating Michigan is like a lifestyle to the Buckeyes. He talked about how his staff and himself talk about beating Michigan during recruiting visits, practices, and daily conversations. Day says they practice for Michigan year-round.

“We work it year-round, every day we work it,” Day said. “We just constantly talk about it. The guys understand it, they understand what a huge week this is. We always have one eye on them. It’s just how we do our business in recruiting or during the season. You can’t go crazy on it while you’re going through your season.”

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“We just constantly talk about it in recruiting. This is our No. 1 goal at Ohio State, to beat ‘The Team Up North.’ Period. The adrenaline’s going now.”

The Buckeyes are 10-1, with their only loss being to Oregon in the second game of the year, and Day says with being 11 games into the season, he knows where his team is at. He says his team still has to prepare like they do every week, but he says this team feels much stronger now than they did 11 weeks ago.

“Now that we’re 11 games into this thing, we know who we are and what we need to do,” said Day. “You have to play the best, and how do you do that? You prepare during the week. They feel much different than they did 11 weeks ago.”

Ohio State has scored more than 50 points in back-to-back weeks. The Buckeyes have the No. 1 offense in all of football, and Ohio State is rolling at the right time — it’s Michigan week. Ryan Day was asked what his game plan is going to be like on the offensive side of the ball going into The Game. Day said it will be situational, and that it doesn’t mean it has to be high-scoring, the Buckeyes just need to do what is needed to win the game.

“It just depends on the situation of the game,” said Day. “You just have to do what’s best to win the game, if that’s winning 10-7. Then you have to win 10-7.”

Why might Ryan Day say 10-7′? Because of the Michigan defense, and what Mike Macdonal has brought to the table as the first-year defensive coordinator for the Wolverines. The last time Ryan Day faced Michigan was back when Don Brown was the face of the defense for the maize and blue. Day complimented Macdonald by saying the defense is now more NFL-oriented.

“This is significantly different,” said Day. “This is more NFL-oriented in how this is structured. Under Coach (Don) Brown’s style was a little more college-oriented. They’re good, they have very good personnel. This is a very good defense (we’re playing). They play with an edge. We’ve got to practice with an edge. The preparation this week is very, very important.”

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What makes the Michigan defense so good? Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo are huge reasons for that. Ryan Day knows that and he said his tackles will have a challenge this week stopping the Big Ten’s leading sack-getters.

“They will be a great challenge for our tackles,” said Day. “Very talented, very powerful off the edge. You can do different things. But you don’t want to do anything crazy. You still have to do what you do. They mix up their rushes. Again, big challenge. You have to know where they are and you have to respect them.”

You can watch the big game on Fox at noon EST on Saturday.

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